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Wrangell-st elias

Best American Adventures: Trek Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

We've just updated our popular America's
Best Adventures
feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
heli-skiing, surfing, climbing, biking, or paddling—we've got the perfect adventure
for you. Check in each day for a new, out-the-backdoor adventure highlighted here on our blog.

By Kate Siber; Photograph by Whit Richardson, Aurora Photos

Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park &
Preserve, the country’s largest national park, operates on an entirely
different scale than the Lower 48. Let’s just review the numbers: Six
times the size of Yellowstone, it’s home to the country’s largest
collection of glaciers and peaks over 16,000 feet (4,879 meters),
including nine of the 16 tallest mountains. Parts of the national park
are so remote and unexplored that mountains, glaciers, and passes
remain unnamed, and only two roads—both gravel—enter it at all. Few
visitors ever set foot into the backcountry. All of this adds up to
that rarest of finds: true solitude.

Because
there are limited well-trod trails in the park, backpackers usually
forge their own routes, which is why a guide can come in handy. Enter
Greg Fensterman, the author of the FalconGuides to trekking
in the park and owner of the outfitter Trek Alaska. After exploring the
park for the better part of a decade, Fensterman now offers choice
guided treks, ranging from several days of bush-plane-accessed base
camping and pleasant day hikes to nine days of serious climbs, swift
river crossings, and bushwhacking. Either way, the rewards are
indescribable: You’ll witness paper-white peaks that rise 9,000 feet
(2,743 meters) out of valley floors, spot grizzlies that have likely
never seen humans, and witness a place so remote and wild it could very
well be the end of the world.

Need to Know: Contact the National Park Service (www.nps.gov/wrst) for information on backpacking. Trek Alaska offers five-day trips from $900 (www.trekalaska.com).